Food prices remained relatively stable last month according to Statistics New Zealand, which today reported a rise of 0.1 percent, but year-on-year data shows the steepest increase since December 2011.
In the previous month, a drop of 0.7 percent balanced out January’s 1.3 percent rise.
“Less discounting on items such as biscuits, yoghurt, and sauces contributed to higher grocery prices,” prices manager Chris Pike says, commenting on March prices. “This was countered by lower prices for fruit and vegetables.”
Grocery food prices rose 1.2 percent, with higher prices across most of the subgroup. This was the highest monthly rise for grocery food prices since January 2013.
Higher prices for meat, poultry, and fish (up 0.4 percent) were influenced by higher prices for beef, partly offset by lower prices for chicken and pork.
Seasonal price falls in vegetables and fruit influenced a 3.1 percent drop across the category. The main downward contributions came from apples and potatoes, partly countered by higher prices for strawberries and tomatoes. With the arrival of new season stock, apple prices have fallen 48 percent from their peak in January.
Lower prices were also recorded for non-alcoholic beverages, influenced by more discounting of packaged coffee and tea.
Annual change in prices
Food prices have increased 1.9 percent during the year to March 2015. This represents the largest annual increase since December 2011.
Fruit and vegetable prices increased 7.0 percent. Prices were higher for lettuce, potatoes, bananas, strawberries, carrots, and dried apricots, while prices for tomatoes, avocados, and cucumber were lower. At $3.05 per kilo, banana prices are now at their highest level since Statistics New Zealand began monitoring them.
Meat, poultry, and fish prices increased 2.5 percent, reflecting higher prices for beef (up 8.0 percent), which is now 0.3 percent below the peak in January 2015.
Grocery food prices increased 0.5 percent in the year to March, influenced by higher prices for cakes and biscuits (up 7.2 percent), fresh milk (up 2.4 percent), and yoghurt (up 7.8 percent). This was partly offset by lower bread, butter, and cheese prices. Campaigns such as Pak’n Save’s $1 bread promotion have contributed to lower bread prices since the second half of last year.